Prior to lockdown, Rotherham had an unemployment rate that was three percentage points above the national average and an average wage that was 10 per cent lower than the national average. Rotherham is ranked 53rd most deprived district in England (Index of Multiple Deprivation) and the main employment in the area is within public services, care, retail and hospitality services. These sectors have been hit hard by COVID-19 and this has placed additional pressures on many of the families of our students, both financially and emotionally.
The COVID lockdown period presented significant challenges for many of our students, especially given the significant loss of face to face teaching. This was replaced with online learning wherever possible. Students also missed a number of assessment opportunities during this period. IT equipment was provided as far as possible where this was identified as an obstacle to engagement and learning by the student. Inevitably internet access was an ongoing issue for some students and staff. Our applications to HE Event, which supports our students in their UCAS applications also had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.Teacher predicted UCAS grades have been generated using their professional judgement, a student’s potential to achieve, along with all of the internal assessment information at their disposal, supplemented with evidence of a student’s engagement in their work to the start of October.